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Know How 3: Flash Your Router's Firmware

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Today you'll be able to unleash the power of your router using DD-WRT. You'll know how to flash your router's firmware!

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This is tweet bandwidth for know how is brought to you by cash fly at CAC AG f ly calm after today's project you'll be able to unleash your router watch us to know how to update your routers firm.

Wow that's us that's us hi as Akhtar Leo Laporte know how the show where we actually show you we get our hands dirty how to do stuff what are we doing today I asked today we are going to put on some new firmware on this Cisco router we have a couple of them because Cisco did something kind of silly it was in the news recently Leo I think you got a little upset about this I was really upset about it and you've probably seen some news about it it happened at the end of June and through July so if you had a Haiyan Cisco Linksys router in EA 2700 3500 4500 by default those routers come with auto update turned on that means Cisco can push an update to your router without your permission so most people ended June early July got pushed a new firmware that turned on a service that cisco calls Cisco Cloud Connect and what it meant was instead of managing your router as you normally do through the browser you had to sign up for an account on Cloud Connect and use Cloud Connect to manage your router settings and there were some really weird terms of services in there for instance Cisco said but we have the right to inspect your internet history you may not use your router for pornography and what Cisco was really doing there Cloud Connect software was they wanted to make sure that if anybody was doing anything using their routers they were protected legally you're a lawyer you understand I just want to get it's kind of boilerplate junk but if freak people out because they're like I didn't opt into this even though they might have actually opted into it because they click the little button didn't read anything but the main point is you know what we don't want this kind of stuff happening to our routers and while I might have the know-how we know some we had somebody here who knows why all of this stuff works and how it works before you go on I just want to say Cisco said whoops it was a mistake and they backtracked out of it that my point is you should control your router firmware nobody else and so we're gonna show you how to do that it's exactly right let's bring in Russell Tim Russell Tammany he's here hey Russell good to see you hey how's it going Russell is really the king of IT around here he's a consulting IT professional his company's exponential and and really smart about this stuff and we were actually saying hey do we have any routers lying around that we could we could burn new firmware onto and Russell he said oh yeah there's like a hundred in the basement absolutely yeah come is that what you do well yeah we you know we brought these to nab and CES so this is kind of our extra loaner routers and just other routers or around here and why don't you like the stock firmware on routers well you know the stock firmware can be good but it's limited so you know you don't have certain features of it you know the manufacturers kind of decide a price point based on you know what router you buy and you know a lot of them have the same chips in them but they'll limit them so so in other words of lets you unlock it this is cheaper because it has crappier firmware exactly somebody does know what firmware is rusty explain what that is yes it's just I'm it's a mini computer right exactly so I mean the firmware is basically the software that runs on the router there's a process right here the processor it's actually very similar to like what a smartphone would have right there usually arm-based as well so the software and firmware get loaded on the router and tell it what it has what it can do as well as drivers for the actual radio firmware so when I'm controlling the router from my browser using you know one ninety two dot one sixty eight dot one dot one or whatever the local addresses I'm actually logging in to the operating system and and changing setting it essentially has a web server right and you're going to that web server and changing the settings and then a lot of different firmware options out there with this open wrt dd-wrt tomato and what we have here we have an you need to know this as well you need to know what model you have because not every firmware is going to work on every router let me ask you where does this firmware come from who is open wrt dd-wrt who are these people yeah they're just sort of groups of open-source enthusiasts that get together and work on these products and they so it's not from Cisco no no it's that it's not approved it may not actually it may actually void your warranty okay so you know that's one thing to be aware of it just bought it last week we were jailbreaking our I fries by putting new firmware on it's very similar to that exactly it's just that the manufacturer doesn't want people doing it and then messing it up and sending it back to them hey I bricked my router it's your fault I want to do yeah I highly suggest if you're going to do this project make sure using a spare router don't be doing this with your main one yes because bricking routers is pretty simple to do if you have one power surge or outage at the same time while you're upgrading this you will brick it and the way to do to fix it is hardware-based taking apart the apps where out if trying to find some leads on the mother yeah they're called hope yeah they're called JTAG leads or sometimes there's a way to use serial ports to flash them but if you don't want to take apart your router and you know basically attach leads to it you know you really you know I I will brick these and just throw them out so these are eaten from so that's not really time electrically electrically erasable programmable read-only memory that what's in there no it's flash memory oh it's fine just regular flash memory there's interesting there's an NV Ram chip which is where the config gets stored and that's sort of more like an EEPROM but the memory and there's regular flash well it's not a big deal so when you sure that you're basically clearing the RAM right but there's no way to there's no bootloader in these right so you know enterprise router Cisco routers things like that have a special boot ROM right you can boot up and then recover the router can't do that my models with it looks us e8 3200 and now what I'm going to do is figure out what firmware to get and the thing is that's important you got to have the right firmware for the model you're going to be and each of these sites where there's DD w DD - wrt comm you can do a quick search we show my screen you can find the router and you'll find information as to what firmware you can get for what device in our case there is an open wrt version available but alpha I don't know if I want to put that on here the dd-wrt version is very stable so I'm gonna go ahead with that you know what's interesting about the name DD ever RT comes from Linksys model the wrt54gl which everybody loved it was the easiest one to write firmware for yeah they the the WR T series like the 54 G in the WR t 11s we're kind of the initial ones that otherwise firmwares were written but now they work on is it like a huge range of routers I mean oh yeah is there a good chance that my router will be on this list there are hundreds of support devices when it comes to dd-wrt and that's why there's a wiki that's where all the instructions are we can't show you every single router that you can do this to that's why we pick them this one model and the thing is this is a Linksys an cisco kind of makes them they kind of messed up with certain things those newest routers that had that Cloud Connect software they auto update one I don't believe there's firmware for that just yet they're brand new right so just like any open-source project it wait it takes a while for the open-source community to get around they have to all have copies and eventually built now if you go to DD highest links active just this Linksys actively discouraged this or do they try to prevent it I don't think they try to prevent it if they really wanted to try to prevent it they won't they would lock it similar to what they do if Android bootloaders so you know they're not implementing that yet but you forget that I said anything yeah we don't want to give them any ideas we like buying cheap routers nice they also want to be able to upgrade to the latest firmware that Linksys gives you if you want to download that and manually install it so we go to the wiki page for dd-wrt finder model and we have the Linksys ether t200 again that's this one here and you'll see that's you can actually see the image of it you go yeah that's my router this is like at what 30 $40 routers operation it's not very expensive it was a dual-band router and I believe it was about $75 75 but now it's the old model and this is Wi-Fi this is not just a static router that's a wife it's Wi-Fi anything but you could do this on any router doesn't have to be correctly router okay now you'll see the flashing instructions on the website and it's in big bold letters and it says don't break your router this is usually when people freak out they go I don't want a brick I want a router don't worry too slowly read everything things are fine it's a 10 step process and I gotta say I've done this before actually it's way easier than I remember few years ago you told me you it was hard to brick it you couldn't you try to bricks I tried to bring some other stuff back here I've done this a couple times I try to break this one this is it you had to go to extremes you had to take the wrong ROM and even then you couldn't break it yeah unless you have a power serger so I don't want to scare people I know you're right you're a lawyer and you're protecting us you want to tell people you could brick your router but it isn't that scary that hard to do have you ever worked a router in the press I have bricked a router in the process but you know that's maybe one in a hundred right so and usually I cuz the power fails no it's usually because you didn't read the instructions yes definitely you know it's it's because I downloaded the wrong thing and tried it and just made an assumption of it it's the same you know it's the same as updating your BIOS on a motherboard jailbreaking life it's the same extent to double-check those model numbers you want to you know make sure that your download completed and and none of these guys are that dd-wrt stuff isn't checking for you that's why you have to retain erections so like I necessarily say oh don't install it now all right well that's what the wiki's for so you know they put that stuff on the wiki and you know you really want to find out if I flash this what am I gonna lose so heat it twice you know it's read it before starting it's over for example the C 3200 you actually lose the 5 gigahertz radio with the first version of the dd-wrt firmware so there were might a little bit of Android roms where I sometimes they may not have versions of the ROM it may not support I don't have bluetooth for the or the second radio so while you guys are talking about all the theoretical stuff I'm actually gonna do something to this rap well you just sitting this got our instructions are written out there there right here on this page 10 steps sense - it actually should I read the steps to you to make sure you're following you could do that read the peacock announcement carefully now that's gonna do that I did read that's it's a terrifying document you ever worn oh yes it's like it's many many pages of information you need to know it'll explain everything disconnect all cables and wireless clients so this is not so make sure if it's a Wi-Fi router nobody's logged in mmm the one cable you don't disconnect his power you can leave that and hold on first just before you do this expert tip what you're gonna want to do is log into your router that how you have it set up and write everything down save your configuration configuration now the configuration file is not restorable so so you're gonna you're gonna get you're gonna blank it so you're gonna want to make sure you get all the SSID your password your settings see this is reads actually the guy who's done a hundred of them cuz the first 20 he forgot to do that and then you're you're trying to figure out what it does so write down your give login write down your configuration now disconnect all kisses dia now you're doing a what is this a 30 30 30 reset this is like a little bit of Voodoo of resetting this it's a heart this is a not as different hard reset and you're different on every router right correct every manufacturer has a difference so I'm going to show you with this on this router there's a little reset port I have a piece of a binder clip you hold this down for 30 seconds which I have to count to myself and then after that you're going to disconnect the power and hold this down for another 30 seconds then reconnect the power for another 30 seconds and that's going to allow you to do some serious work now why do we want to reset the router is it necessary it's a it's the same reason why you need to save your configuration because the configuration that's in the nvram is written for your firmware so it's for the links as before the net gear for the buffalo and when you replace that firmware with the dd-wrt firmware it's going to boot and try to look in the nvram for your configuration so you are resetting a part of the router that isn't over rear end when you write the new firm correct you have to make sure that's back to its stock state it's the safest to do that I that's one of the ways that I have bricked a router before is by not resetting it first so the NVRAM is kind of non-volatile it's preserved across this alright so we're entering that and this 30 30 30 reset can also be helpful if you forgot to clear it put the dd-wrt on it and then got stuck so you might go back and do that so if you didn't do it and you think it's bricked it's always good to try that okay we've waited this took 90 SEC's the signai time so look at those like 10 seconds ago 9 is everybody how are you driving this 7 6 5 4 3 2 okay everybody. Praying a guy praying to God okay not be in a hurry when you do this no way this is this is it's it's being methodical careful following the steps that keep you from breaking it follow directions and if you think you know better than the instructions you probably don't if you do know better edit them in Betty or Russell Tammany that's not what a big venue briquette years ago years ago the documentation wasn't as good as this I think years ago it was kind of disparate it was unformed as a look on a forum through Bend if you pose a lot better than ever than I ever it's gotten a lot cleaner a lot easier right now to reconnect a land cable to the router so you're gonna connect a cable to your laptop and to your router that land cable is how you're gonna get the firmware onto the router right okay so I'm gonna go to one and two wirelessly you got out you got into it hard one and if you see my screen right now you can say welcome to the Linksys III 200 now I don't want to install cisco connects because that's exactly what we don't want this is what we're trying 10 you with an open and unsecured Network let's say I understand my network is open I'm going to click it continue where they really do want it yes and again I got there I do though it says hey listen you guys are not using Cisco Connect so yes yeah okay here we go now we're finally into the interface so this is what you're used to this is the traditional Cisco interface for setting up the router okay but here we're gonna go to that update your firmware right that's in the administration tab and then we've downloaded the next step says log into web interface and flash firmware 3200 trailed initial flash build this is a piece of firmware that's going to allow you to put dd-wrt on the router okay slow down so this is not the firmware this this is the firmware but it is a special build of the firmware that's intended for flashing using links as web interface okay and that's not what we want or it is what we it will include a version of dd-wrt that i want but it may be an older version so you downloaded this from the dd-wrt sufferance and what. You're telling is the router is hate wink-wink nudge-nudge we're going to update your firmware with something it thinks is a Linksys product but isn't yeah so the newer versions of dd-wrt may not directly flash to the router so now i have lots of software so I got to make sure I put the right things older that may have to be installed first it includes a version of DD to be in there okay so do newer versions you'll need to download I've gone through the web interface I went to upgrade to admin to fat a firmware upgrade then hit choose file binding the file found the file there it is make sure it's clearly labeled don't mix these things out this might be a good time to check the name of that RL with the name of the file you expect you installing these I want to double check that you know it's not a zip file then it is extracted and there's a dot bin file we have done that we had installed zip files in the firmware it's not uncommon so right now it's upgrading right now so it says upgrade must not be interrupted so again you don't have the urge to disconnect things kick over power supply's move with your swivel-chair don't do that right now as much as you want to we should point out this is operating system independent at this point because you're not using the Windows or Mac or Linux machine you're actually running a browser that is yeah so I'm like Android wear you know you see instructions are different right this thing is very easy across all pluck know the system reboot is in progress it may take see a history we want to watch what's going on here okay and hit continue so it copied that was fast it copied everything over it's not very big now the file is only about four to eight Meg's so that's very small now the instructions say we have to wait 10 minutes until WLAN turns on and the weird thing is in my experience I have not seen it take ten minutes it actually restarts in like like three this is the boot time though right it's actually if we're doing anything it may be the initial flash so once it's copied it then reboots and then does a flash so if I personally boot off you know okay may also be important that's why I could take probably depends on the machine but or the router but it could break as long as ten minutes it's just that thing to make sure it's probably not going to take that it's just to make sure that nobody unplugs theirs while it may still wait longer than it could possibly ever take in a million years you have that one chance and it's already set up so go to my screen blinking what holter yeah I just resent i refresh 192 168 1 1 and right now this is obviously a different interface you can see on the top left now it does say that you should power cycle for 30 seconds you should wait 5 minutes until it finishes booting ensuring with your doing that you said yeah we didn't do any of that you should finish that well cuz yeah you should reset it again after dd-wrt has gone it just to be just so that dd-wrt can put its initial config in I usually skip that step but to be safe the Russell knows everything doing the Russell method you know now so don't do it at home don't try this at home kids well know now that we have this software under the firm was amazing what are we gonna do with it now we already know you guys want to underscore this we're done we actually well new firmware on here now we have to configure it I understand we got stuff to do but but the job is done the thing that we came here to show you to do is done that's how easy it is that's really simple again though you can brick it if you'd make a mistake just which op saying that you're scaring the people and that's what scared you know to be scared slightly tiny bit you know fearful if we skipped a few steps follow all ten steps right now and this is where we're really glad to have Russell here me it's time to configure this router and Russell's gonna tell us some of the things that he does next week routers we asked the audience before what you got what are you guys gonna do with your new firmware love to see urea what what were you guys gonna do with it so we have and we have a tweet from Adam tech he goes the first thing I do is increase the wireless broadcast power you could do that now in the router lutely not normally the thing you can do right so normally you're gonna get whatever the manufacturer decides is the transmit power for that router and then usually like a tenth of a lot it's not it's usually pretty low it's usually somewhere between fifty and a hundred milliwatts yeah depending on the router now they have engineered it so that they've picked an appropriate power setting for the antenna that's actually in the products you could burn so they're not exactly you know cheating you it's just that they designed the product and they chose the power for certain reasons so you can turn up the power but I would not suggest turning up the power more than 25% 30% from stock power here's another suggestion from the the Twitter room I like this and Russell will not like this you have it there Colin set up the PPTP VPN server so I can access Spotify and box on my work wife now dd-wrt comes with a version of open VPN that allows you to use PPTP correct what did all of that just mean essentially that gives you software that you can create a VPN tunnel so you're linking your computer that you're on with your home network like it's actually plugged in getting around alrighty we know rich in here yeah if there was at your you know well it may not be the restrictions but there's not many good ways of accessing services like that directly so you can do a VPN and then now the IT guys can't actually see exactly what you're doing tunneling to a home server right you know they know that you're making a VPN and they know where you're making the video what's going on they don't know what's going over it you can also make you write or do a lot more I think it's only us had a suggestion as to making it a wireless repeater right so that's interesting because you can buy I could buy a Linksys repeater correct and usually what you'll find is that they charge more for those so one of the things the reason that I use these and a lot of have nonprofit and smaller businesses is because they can be configured to do a WDS bridge which is actually more than just a repeater what a WDS bridge allows you to do is connect the second unit it can be anything that runs dd-wrt and it can be a wireless repeater off of your main unit so both units need to have dd-wrt and both units need to be configured for this WDS bridge and then that lets you put another router in another room that's great and it works as well both a wireless repeater and as the wired ports and the router get connected to that wireless network as well so you can do with is to extends both your wireless and your wired network wirelessly and it allows you to create mesh networks with multiple units that is really cool and because these are so cheap and plentiful it this is a really inexpensive way to access I have some nonprofit sites where we have 10 of these covering their entire campus and we just you know some of them where we can have them wired in we have them wired in and where we can't wire them in we'll put one off of a bridge you know and then that lets us recruit a signal over a whole area doctored ridden our chat room says a good thing a thing that all ham operators know yes you could turn up your transmit power but don't be a jackass and turn it up higher than you need just right up enough yet so that it does what it is if you if you do turn it up higher than you need you're actually creating more noise and then our neighbors or your neighbors are not going to like that the other thing is that remember when you turn up the transmit power you're not turning up the sensitivity on receiving so when you take your iPad or your laptop and you take it you know further away than you could before with higher power that device may not be able to talk back it's basically have the router specific tons of signal that somebody's noisier than normal and your your devices like yeah I can see the route I have three bars but nothing but the router still doesn't have anything that says I can grab this data back so that was one of the things I like lessens my stress oh you don't want to go too high you know some routers have a replaceable Ethernet or antenna jack so you can couldn't go out a directional antenna or a larger antenna and that will make a larger antenna will make your receive better and same with the directional so this is deafening what else you would know you this is so much less we need a whole follow-up episode for what you can do with this there's we well know so I'm.

Sorry that's not gonna happen we're gonna do the battle setup I know you guys have lots of ideas and I know when this is like a 101 we were sort - we need a 201 we need to really get into the way you need to figure to come back and show we have this we could set up we can take our Wi-Fi and let's keep chaining them together yeah anyway yeah before we go but I there are certainly things that anybody with a Wi-Fi router absolutely has to do right would you just give us those basic things right so we don't want anybody going out that's true this is open yeah now so the basic thing is yeah when dd-wrt flash is - it's gonna leave you open it will have an SSID of dd-wrt and you don't want to leave it in that configuration so if you got to this point now you need to go back to what you wrote down from your previous router and go into the dd-wrt and set up an equivalent configuration turn on the W so you want to turn on wpa2 now if you name it the same thing as your previous wireless and you use the exact same like wpa2 and security type like a s or TK IP you won't have realmente yes we recommend AES and wpa2 personal and then W dd-wrt so DB zippy which is not it does it also supports enterprise with radius server so another more advanced topic most people don't most people won't do that so don't turn that on and then if you configure the same settings as your previous router you won't have to go to all of your other devices and fix it that's nice so you know same right side you say missus can also change the administration password obvious they're all case sensitive so make sure when you're yeah what is the default password on dd-wrt root net uh yeah we can admin so everybody knows that right so trying to change that immediately so the first thing you get says change that turn-off way in administration unless you know that you need that right it doesn't matter to turn out change SSID or hide SSID know the hiding SSID in the Mac filtering doesn't do anything very nice restful does nothing this isn't noisy people that's about it in low level so that's good so now it's security if you have that if you had occur before it'll be secured exactly as it was before correct okay good yeah we definitely do follow this loss and I know you guys gonna have lots of ideas like smell leaks in here oh yeah there's so many things you do and there's many different routers and so many different firmware to try out you got an idea you can just send us an email at know-how at wit da TV that's K and owh owh with that TV we could leave us a voicemail keep them short and keep them intelligent we love intelligent voicemails I haven't seen a lot of as we gotten any yet Colin I'm gonna head shake no they were just too long they were very yes they were long we're smart just well yeah you guys are brilliant with 30 seconds or less we would love that 408 800 you see what a time time tom there's a word for that a 408 800 KN o w that's at 408 800 K and o.

W when I leave us a voicemail or if you did something on your own you made a video upload it to YouTube channel send us a link that we'd love to see what you guys are doing with this this information because I the way I want another thing I want to point out we talk all the time on security now but WPS and how insecure it is it actually will let somebody get into a wpa2 password a strong password correct the good news is there's no WPS on any of these that's correct they haven't implemented that and for good reading wrt they may somebody may be working on right but exactly so you can you can trust those guys to do it right I love it that's really important this is it yet another reason why you want to put this on in fact I wouldn't even buy a router unless it's on the list yeah that's something into because I was testing out with other products earlier I'm like this d-link is not going to work so now I can't do anything with that if you want to have that ability look it up first I mean that's which is great and their database searches are way better than they used to be a almost impossible very easy to find it out can I ask one more question will this improve performance um it's possible it's possible that the radio firmware that's actually in the DDR dd-wrt bundle is a little better than what the manufacturer provides but it also works well no it could be worse okay this is the alien so if you bought a brand-new router and it's supported by dd-wrt I'd suggest letting it run for a week or two and just make sure that you know it's stable in your environment and that you don't have any issues with it so that you're not you know fine feeding to the original router right you want to make sure your original routers you can't return this one um you actually can return some of them um this unit you can return to the stock firmware so if you know ah you don't like it you can put it back how do you do that uh pretty much the same way you got an Alexis I'd find out what your firmware is so there is a way to get your information right on most units you can go back oh yeah most of those I happen to have one that you can't i've note this are the bricks no this is not a brick this one this is one way you want to double-check so I'm gonna have written in bold on the instructions once you go dd-wrt on this one you can't go back I think Colleen put tomato on one of these tomato was on this one OOP it's there yeah so you just that's why you want to read it carefully because if you're using the USB port feature to share a hard drive that could be turned off and you update and you lose that you may not be able to get to save this is the old tooth these are plastic we should say thanks to the cottage and finally is there difference between dd-wrt and tomato should we prefer one over the other um I personally prefer dd-wrt but you know if fanboys the other way too is this fanboys the other way - exactly and you know they're both up to date there some of them may have different router support so if you check dd-wrt don't assume that's the only one that you can get on your got it wow this was good I'm sorry we went over but you know what it was great stuff really useful stuff Oh yo to me the port yeah I owe you five minutes five minutes five minutes you'll never gonna get back I know much older thanks nicely oh and thanks to Russell Tammany from exponentiate that net you're the greatest hey I'm tell you he's the best IT guy I have ever seen and I've seen a lot of them and he is our contract guy and just makes it before we go next week what's next week next week you guys are gonna know how to build a media server we've gotten so many emails about this weird times we flex how we're gonna get our content around our house we're gonna use plex how we're gonna have a front end how am I gonna watch my stuff around my house you'll find out next can't do that in half an hour I'll try because I will try thanks everybody for joining us remember this show is available for download on all of the usual sites including iTunes the Zune and of course twit TV / KH KH that's our abbreviation. KH and we always put it on YouTube and that's really important if a friend calls you or somebody wants to know how to do something please don't hesitate to refer them to our youtube video we really want to make a database there now over time I've just really well done how-to videos that help people get what they need to be so there you go that's how you create new firmware now do you know how do it we'll see you next time bye bye.


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